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Pete Fountain dies, aged 86

Clarinetist Pete Fountain died of heart failure on August 6, aged 86. He had been in hospice care in his hometown of New Orleans.


Fountain’s style was often described as a distinctive combination of swing and Dixieland. As a young musician, he was influenced by Benny Goodman, where records he grew up listening to. Irving Fazola contributed to establishing his sound by giving him his first crystal mouthpiece, which went on to become an essential part of his characteristic playing style.


Throughout his career, he recorded over 100 LPs and CDs under his own name, some in the Dixieland style and others with only peripheral relevance to jazz.


His recording of “Just a Closer Walk With Thee” became recognized as the unofficial anthem of traditional New Orleans jazz, while his regular appearances on the Lawrence Welk and Johnny Carson shows on television helped him become a household name.

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